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More Latinos Are Going to College, But In Small Number of Schools

Latino college attendance in rising throughout the United States, but research shows a concentrated number of colleges enroll Hispanics.
The Wolfson Campus of Miami Dade College in downtown Miami, which is the top Hispanic-Serving Institution in the U.S. Miami Dade College is also the largest institution of higher education in America with 165,000 students.Angel Valentin / for NBC News

While more Latinos are heading to college than ever before, that trend is not increasing uniformly throughout all U.S. colleges, according to a study released Wednesday. In fact, more than six in 10 Latino students attend a small percentage of schools with large Hispanic populations.

A majority of Latinos attended Hispanic-Serving Institutions in 2014-2015 academic year, according to a study by Excelencia in Education, an organization which has been tracking Latino college enrollment since 2004. The number of HSIs increased by 7 percent in the same year and are concentrated in 18 states.

"I think the highlight here is that Latino enrollment in higher education is increasing, but so is the concentration of Latino students on campuses," said Deborah Santiago, chief operating officer and vice president for policy at Excelencia.

Out of all colleges and universities in the U.S., 13 percent are classified as HSI and 62 percent of Latino college students attend these schools.

To qualify as an HSI, at least 25 percent of the student body must be Hispanic or Latino. There are 435 institutions in the U.S. that fall into that category. Santiago said when you include "emerging HSIs", which have 15-24 percent Latino enrollment rates, another 310 schools qualify.

RELATED: Latino college enrollment increased while overall enrollment numbers declined

Hispanic-Serving Institutions and Excelencia in Education!
Graphic of the statistics on Latino student enrollment. While more Latinos are attending schools, they only tend to enroll in Hispanic-Serving Institutions.Excelencia in Education!

Santiago, who has researched Latino college enrollment and graduation statistics since 1995, says location and Hispanic populations are inflating enrollment numbers in these schools. "A majority of HSIs are also concentrated geographically."

RELATED: How to increase Latino college enrollment in 2013

The top 10 HSIs with the highest Latino student populations enroll 9 percent of Hispanic students. All of these schools are in states with large Latino populations: Florida, Texas and California. Santiago asserts that the growing U.S. Hispanic population as well as college readiness programs are contributing to increased college enrollment.

Out of all the HSIs, almost 70 percent are public or open access universities. "These are students who need support services and academic advising," said Santiago. The issue for these institutions, said Santiago, is to ensure that Hispanic students are not only enrolling but graduating. "We are seeing schools focusing on retention and not just enrollment," she said.

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